CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) –The Homeless Services Division’s primary goal is to make homelessness in Chattanooga brief, rare, and non-recurring by locating permanent housing.
“Our model is housing first. So we do have an outreach team that will go and make connections with the community. And once were engaged they work with the housing navigator that will help them navigate all the way you can get support for housing,” said O’Neill.
Program manager Cassie O’Neill said it’s tough in the current housing market to find affordable housing.
“The biggest challenge right now is the housing market in Chattanooga is more expensive than it has ever been before. We are struggling to find what is affordable, especially low-income housing. The biggest thing we have in the community is we need landlords willing to work with us. We have financial incentives for them that will apply to certain clients if they would like to come forward and contact me about how I can join us,” said O’Neill.
Once housed, intern Emma Wagner saw there was still a lot of need including cleaning supplies.
“I thought about, we’ve all moved into apartments, and that upfront cost of housekeeping and first apartment supplies is kind of steep, especially if you’re coming from off the street and all you’ve got is what’s on your back and what you’ve got in your bag,” said Wagner.
She created a drive to help collect cleaning supplies and she says the response from the community has been outstanding and it’s been an incredible journey for her.
“My favorite experience was getting to put together the first kit that went out. Just the act of putting these things together and going maybe he’ll want this or he’ll get to use this. It was just a remarkable feeling of seeing this plan come to fruition,” said Wagner.
Despite the success, the need for more cleaning and housing supplies is still there.
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